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How artificial intelligence lets Barbie talk to children

Forget this season’s fashion. Outfitted with the latest advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), a new Barbie can “talk” to children, leading some to question what having such lifelike toys may mean for their young users, The New York Times reports. Known as Hello Barbie, the doll is the result of a collaboration between toy company Mattel and ToyTalk, a San Francisco, California–based company specializing in AI. The doll can speak to children using ToyTalk’s system to analyze speech and produce relevant responses. Over time, Hello Barbie will “learn,” remembering the names of pets, what a child’s interests are, and even whether his or her grandparents are still living. The technology has some psychologists and others worried about the effects such realistic toys might have on children—from limiting their capacity for imaginative play to replacing actual friends. The gregarious doll is expected to hit shelves this fall.

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